At 9:15 the band started playing and worship began. I love this song, I thought to myself and closed my eyes like usual to sing praise from my heart. But today was difficult. I sung the words but soon I didn’t even hear myself singing anymore, lost in thought as my mind drifted away. A couple of times I said quietly, “Focus”, and though it sounded like a prayer it was more of a command to myself. By the time the sermon began I had thought of about a million other things than singing worship to God, and I realized just how distracted my soul truly was.
I can’t say when this unrest, these distractions really started, but for weeks now I have felt it coming. I think Sunday was just the tipping point I realized something had to change. As Chad was making his way up to the stage the words “silent and solitude” from the last sermon echoed in my heart and again I remembered the first stage of burnout: failure to take care of yourself. That for sure is me, I’m there I had thought after that message, but not much had changed in the past week. You see when you’re too busy being a control-freak and trying to be strong for and take care of everyone else sometimes your own needs go unmet. So here I sat, wondering what the next sermon series would be as I still reflected upon the last…
(Side note: Please note that the quotes used below are not direct, but come from my paraphrased notes I took)
“Wait and see. A wait-and-see moment is when you’ve done all you can do and are waiting for God to come through. Maybe your waiting on God to act, or your just waiting for guidance”. Everything in me froze and immediately I was intrigued. Chad continued talking and I felt like I could cry. Yes, I have been in a wait-and-see for a while now. I was waiting on God to act AND give guidance actually, but so far nothing. Just silence. In that moment I felt God speak, “You have not because you ask not”. Chad continued preaching and I kept hearing those words repeated to me, though Chad never actually said those words. I knew the verse was from James, but couldn’t quite pinpoint it. I flipped to James, “You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures” (James 4:2b-3 NASB). Ouch, that hurts. What’s interesting is the words that followed from Chad…
“Some of you aren’t going to want to hear this, and I even debated on saying this…” Yikes… “Sometimes we don’t hear from God because of sin in our life. It could be a hidden area of sin or an area of defiance.” My gut reaction was no, because my relationship with the Lord has been pretty good, but then Proverbs 3:5-6 got brought up and the Holy Spirit convicted me about the whole “lean not on your own understanding” part. I soon realize my area of defiance/sin. Once again, I had slipped into having to always be in control. I wasn’t looking for God to guidance, but had been trying to do everything all on my own. I hadn’t asked God for guidance or help, and therefore had not received. And the few times I had asked God to provide guidance, or even asked God to provide financially in this “wait and see”, it was coming from a place of pride in my heart, which would allow me to be in continued control. No, I wasn’t asking God for more stuff or even more pleasure in those moments, but I was, in a nutshell, just asking to remain in control.
As we entered into a time of prayer I knew immediately what I had to do. I knew a lot of my distractions and unrest was coming from my constant contact with social media. I had been wrestling with God about giving this up but had not obeyed, and I knew the time had come to surrender. I decided that as of December 1 I would give up all social media (except for blogging and the occasional Pinterest search when needed) for at least the month of December. My other reason for doing this is because in this time of waiting, I don’t want to miss what God will provide, whether it’s a specific act of plain guidance. I want to make sure I’m available to listen to Him. Also, with it being the Christmas season, I want to make sure I’m fully present in the here and now and available to my family and friends, to remember the true reason for this season. Overall, I know that this social media fast is meant for my good.
Right before writing this post I was reminded of my word for 2016, “Held” when the song by Casting Crowns came on the radio. Once again, tears swelled in my eyes as I listened to the lyrics. This year I was supposed to learn what it meant to be held by God. While I still feel like I have more to learn, I now at least feel like I understand what God wanted me to know. I am not meant to go through life alone, even though it may feel like that sometimes. And while there is an expectation to be strong, I have to remember that this is not to be done in my own strength, but in the Lord’s. I must trust in Him and lean fully on Him, for He is the one who holds me, not myself.
This year has brought some crazy things, and life has “hit me out of nowhere” more than once. On more than one occasion I felt like I was barely hanging on, but man has God done some awesome stuff! He brought Brandon and I closer together in our marriage than ever before. He placed us in an awesome church family and in and amazing community group. Our family has grown and I was provided a full time job at my dream location. So while there have been plenty of ups and downs this year, God has consistently reminded me of oh how faithful He is. I am not alone, I can stop trying to hold on and have constant control, but instead, just be held by Him. ❤